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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  February 23, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm PST

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sanders taking questions from the democratic town hall 8:00 eastern. 10:00, anderson cooper, dana bash and i have coverage of the nevada republican caucuses. on thursday, it's the cnn gop presidential debate in houston. moderated by wolf blitzer, 8:30 eastern. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. turning you over to brianna keilar next door in "the situation room." happening now -- donald trump said he wanted to punch a nevada protester, now looking to knock out rivals in tonight's caucuses. warning marco rubio hit me and see what happens. talk of the town -- bernie sanders and hillary clinton getting ready for tonight's cnnton hall with south carolina's crucial primary days away. also -- supreme rejection. republicans on the senate you di judiciary committee saying if president obama sends up a supreme court nominee they will not even hole hearings. i'm brianna keilar, in for wolf
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blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we begin tonight with some breaking news. in less than three hours, republican voters in nevada will head to caucus sites and choose a nominee. donald trump, marco rubio, ted cruz, the top three in reason polls, but polling in state can be tricky, which moons we could see surprises tonight. we're covering it all for you starting with cnn's jim acosta, with the trump campaign in las vegas. and, jim, trump preemptively took a swipe at rubio, right? what everyone's waiting for. do you think this is foreshadowing a possible fight? >> reporter: absolutely, brianna. donald trump is the odds-on favorite to win in nevada but his campaign co-chair tells me they are confident this is a caucus, results are unpredictable, trump rivals spent the day warning the gop of what will happen if he becomes the nominee. the party establishment is lining up against trump. cruz said the brash billionaire
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can't be trusted as a conservative. foreshadowing what he sees as the potential battle to come with rubio, rubio said -- trump said that rubio is a nice, young man but he better be ready. >> nikki haley who backed the wrong horse, she had -- who the hel did she back? rube. who, by the way, i've been very nice. why are you so nice? because he hasn't hit me. when he does -- you will see what happens. >> reporter: now, trump also tweeted today that he's the candidate that can unite the republican party and he joked, brianna, get this, supporters are so loyal they would overlook trump's involvement in a murder, but trump did appear to be kidding when he said that. >> he said something similar before as well. we've gotten used to him hitting ted cruz. what's he saying about that? >> reporter: that's right.
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right back to hammering ted cruz, hitting on a theme that the texas senator is dishonest. trump, as he often does, added a new wrinkle to his attack, calling cruz an infant. here's what he had to say about that. oh, i should point out, we don't have that sound ready to go. but he said that cruz is basically a baby, but in terms of liars he's the best that he's ever seen. trump is still trying to appeal to evangelicals as well, to try to cut into ted cruz's base of support. he was trying to get his supporters to get out there today to caucus on behalf of the gop front-runner. but at this rally today, in sparks, he said, nobody reads the bible more than he does. last night here in las vegas, trump said he wanted to punch a protester in the face. for the last 24 hours, it has been vintage donald trump. he has not dialled it back one bit heading into the nevada caucuses.
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>> thank you so much. marco rubio spent six years growing up in las vegas. he's counting on that local connection tonight. heat currently neck and neck with senator cruz, coming off a rough news day after the firing of his communications director. senator rubio has moved on, at a rally in minneapolis, he is heading to michigan later tonight, he's looking for a boost back in his old hometown, las vegas, where we find cnn's jason carroll now. you have caucuses a few hours away. rubio hoping for his momentum to continue. the question, though, how much momentum does he actually have in nevada? can we tell? >> reporter: yeah, you know, that is a good question. i think it's safe to say, brianna, the rubio camp wishes they had more momentum here in nevada. they certainly have a number of gop leaders who are stepping up in support of marco rubio, will that translate into votes, though? that's the big question. and at this point, you know, it's really, really tough to
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answer. we do know, as you say at this point, marco rubio moved on, going to be doing his campaigning in minnesota and in michigan. so actually, he won't even be here tonight at the watch party that he's holding. perhaps some people here saying that's some sort of indication how the rubio camp thinks he's going to end up doing here. so, momentum, yes. is it enough? still very much a question. >> travel schedule says so much where their minds are, what is he saying about president obama's plan to close guantanamo bay? >> reporter: well, as you know, that was one of the president's promises during his campaign to keep guantanamo -- to close guantanamo bay. well, marco rubio said today, he's said this before, that it is his intention to keep guantanamo bay open he in no way wants enemy combatants anywhere near u.s. soil and when he said that during his rally a little earlier this morning, it was
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meant by resounding applause, applause when he said it was a mistake to try to cut the u.s. military. i mean at the end of the day, he knows how to get his audience going. he knows how to get them to their feet. the question is, can he get them to the polls? again, that's a question at this point that can't be answered. >> we'll see there in nevada tonight. jason carroll, thank you. we'll have more on that guantanamo fallout shortly as mentioned. unless the polling turns out to be completely wrong. this is a cruz/rubio battle for second place. reporting on the cruz campaign tonight is cnn's sunlen serfaty who is joining us now. you're there at ted cruz's caucus headquarters in vegas. what is the cruz campaign expecting tonight? >> reporter: well, they seem to be avoiding setting expectations of any kind, brianna. i asked senator cruz on the ground here, as he was campaigning throughout nevada, how he expects to do tonight. he said, he didn't go far. he said it's his hope to do
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well. and as you referenced, really the race for second is the big prize for him here tonight. they want to beat marco rubio coming out of tonight. they really think that is the main goal and that would do a lot propelling him towards super tuesday, the cruz campaign very much wanting to have a little wind at their back, have their candidate get a little swagger back. also very critical, though, to be able to leave nevada here with the key argument that cruz could make if they beats rubio he is the alternative to trump. >> cruz rallying around nevada trying for the final push for support. what is he saying in response to the latest criticism from donald trump who called cruz, quote, soft and weak and like a little baby? >> reporter: well, he's pushing back much more aggressively than we've seen in recent days. at his very first event this morning, first thing he brought up to his supporters, his crowd, he basically read what donald trump had said to him -- about him last night, calling him
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sick, saying in response, launching a direct attack on trumps character in response saying, look, this is someone who changes position to position. what does that reveal about his character saying that someone who vacillates from position to position shows that he are not coming from a corset of beliefs or principle. this was about the most direct attack i've heard ted cruz launch about his character. >> president obama's announcement about gitmo, something so many candidates weighed in on. did cruz? >> reporter: that's right. he of course, did not waste an opportunity to weigh in. was not in agreement with president obama's speech today and said that president obama should not shut down guantanamo bay. he called for an expansion. he said, let's throw more terrorists in there. he never shies away from any opportunity to criticize president obama, today no excepti
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exception. >> sunlen serfaty in las vegas, thank you. perspective from the campaign professionals. cnn political commentators jeffrey lord and amanda carpenter, he is a trump supporter, former reagan white house political director, she's the former communications director for senator ted cruz. also joining us, adam kahn, we have cnn political commentator anna navarra. anna, you have trump's comments about senator rubio today. he said he's been very nice to senator rubio but if rubio goes after him, quote, you will see what happens. a lot of applause from the crowd he was talking to. there's a lot of people waiting for rubio to attack trump. why hasn't this boiled over yet? >> because the timing hasn't been right but i think it's going to boil over. we've seen this show on tv before, we saw it play out between donald trump and ted cruz. remember that, what, six months ago, they had a bromance going
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on, ted cruz was in new york visiting donald trump, posting pittsbur pictures together, best friends forever going on, prok cactical exchanging vows on tv. but we saw how it turned into a very, very nasty fight between the two of them when it got close and the race got competitive. i think you're going to see some of the same thing with marco rubio. look, donald trump goes after people. if he sees marco rubio inching up, if he sees marco rubio getting close to his position, he will attack him. i think marco is going to need to attack back. marco, at this point, trying to attract a lot of the folks that were supporting jeb bush, that were supporting others that have dropped out and i think that for a lot of us it's important to support somebody that has the will, the ability, and the backbone to confront donald trump head on. >> jeff, your guy, droionald tr has been saying things that raises eyebrows. talked about wanting to punch a
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protester in the face, called ted cruz crazy, said he will be do angry if voters don't caucus in nevada he was talking about temp, his tone and we did see it before the new hampshire primary. does it pay off, this kind of language? >> well, first of all, i'm always, you know, cautious about caucus situations. they're not primaries, as we saw in iowa the results can be different. so you know, i have no idea what's going to happen in this caucus situation. as to his language, that punch in the face thing, i went back and did some checking on this historically. this is what the american left did to of all people hubert humphrey, the democrat is as nominee in 1968. they did exactly then what they're doing to donald trump now. they showed applause the rallies, shouted obscenities, tried to get a reaction. one point hum fi had the secret service and police drag them out of the arena, i think in seattle. so this is a standard tactic
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here. i think donald trump not only is responding to it but i had a little group event for something i was doing last night sponsored by a philadelphia radio station, there were about 15 people in a sold-out thing, event, they arranged, and the comments to me, unasked by the participants, guests, were very crit al of 0 the media. the media sort of writ large is -- >> the bigger question, jeff, so he's not -- is he pulling back on that attempt to temper his language? >> i think he does when he feels it's appropriate, sure. but i think, you know, there are times when he feels -- frankly all of these candidates do, i mean, with ted cruz and i feel badly for his communications director who i know and like, but he got -- he made a mistake here. but the cruz campaign has been hit by ben carson, marco rubio, and donald trump, all on issues going to truth telling and dirty
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tricks, et cetera. when you've got three candidates piling in after you, this is more than just donald trump doing this. >> okay. let me ask you, amanda, about that. senator cruz had a tough day yesterday, his coms director resigned over the inaccurate rubio video on the heels of a photo shop picture they put out of rubio and the president. does this hurt him in nevada? >> listen, ted cruz has had a lot thrown at him since the beginning, because a lot of people knew him as a threat. with everyone coming after him, placed first in iowa, inrd in new hampshire, tied for south carolina -- second in south carolina. he'll perform well tonight. campaigns are facing adversity. he's had a lot of things thrown at him. i think it speaks a lot to cruz's character that he did take action and terminated the staffer for doing it. it's a very hard thing to do but they're going to keep competing. dynamics for campaign have not
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changed going into super tuesday and i think they have a strong argument that they're the only ones who take on donald trump and beat him to date. >> can he pull out second? nevada? >> we'll have to see. i think it helps trump and cruz more than rubio. >> i know that you've said they're in nevada, that senator rubio and senator cruz have both had a much stronger, more organized ground game than donald trump. but you have trump leading in the polls there. he's really leading in the polls. how do you expect this to play out? >> it depends -- >> this is for autumn. how do you think it's going to play out? >> i think it depends on turnout. what's interesting, amanda saying about the vows that cruz and trump were married before, classic nevada fashion i'd say they're dorsed now. i have a chance to attend a ted cruz rally and donald trump rally. they're more worried about each other. i think donald trump sees ted cruz as the biggest threat this
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cycle. whether he pivots towards rubio that tells us more than the polls will tell us. i tell you what, in nevada you have to be registered as a republican by february 13th to participate and a lot of donald trump voters that will show up to the caucuses and turned away, not allowed to vote. >> that will be an interesting point. stay where you are. we have much more to talk about when we come back especially on the gitmo bombshell out of the white house. president obama sending his plan for closing the facility there to congress and lawmakers are responding sharply. all of it as we are seeing playing out on the campaign trail. ahead the democrats heading into tonight's cnn town hall in south carolina. they also have a big primary this weekend with bernie sanders fighting an uphill battle. .
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we talked about it before the break, seven years after calling for closure of the guantanamo bay detention facility, president obama this morning sent congress his plan for making it happen. >> keeping this facility open is contrary to our values. it undermines or standing in the world. it is viewed as a stain on our broader record of upholding the highest standards of rule of law. >> some lawmakers beg to differ. one senator, republican pat roberts of kansas, wasted no time disposing of it. check this out. >> this is what i think of the president's plan to send terrorists to the united states.
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>> so in a moment, more on the impact on the presidential campaign. right now we want the very latest on the plan itself, the reaction in washington to it. we have cnn's michelle kosinski following the story from the white house for us. tell us more about this blueprint that the president put out today. >> reporter: so there are 91 detainees at gitmo, 35 have been approved for transfer to other countries, as the white house has been doing over the last couple of years. the white house now wants to see if there are any more that could be transferred. they want to reform the military commissions that have been eventually trying these suspects but ultimately, the president wants to find secure locations in the united states to move these people to. we know the department of defense look at the lenevworth in kansas. none of those were named specifically in the president's plan and it annoyed opponents of the plan even more.
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>> this, of course, this point of contention between obama and his opponents, as gop opponents, since the beginning of his presidency. tell us more about the reaction. >> reporter: well, from republicans, it's as expected negative. especially candidates. john kasich making the argment those left at gitmo are the of the of the worst, don't bring them no the united states. marco rubio saying we're not going to give back gitmo to the cubans though the white house isn't proposing that at all. that's not even on the table. you have donald trump saying, i could keep gitmo open but i could do it for a lot less money. but the white house is saying, among this opposition, it's just putting political pressures and needs over our national security interests. and the white house says if you're a fiscal conservative then you shouldn't want to continue spending more than $4 million per year, per detainee, at gitmo, as it stands right
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now. >> what about taking executive action? is that something that you're hearing anything about from the white house? >> reporter: yeah, that's a good question. i complicated because in the past couple of months we've heard from people like the attorney general herself, we have heard from the joint chiefs of staff saying, current law prohibits us from transferring detainees now to hold them in the u.s. so the question then is, how can -- the white house, how can you talk about executive action when everybody else is saying the law says you cannot do that. the white house isn't going into detail. they repeat they're not ruling out any executive action at this point what happen that would look like under the law, though, truly remains to be seen. >> all options on the table doesn't necessarily mean he will use them. thank you. as mentioned, republicans turn this news into a rallying cry on the campaign trail today. this morning before leaving las vegas, marco rubio, who is of cuban ancestry, weighed in. >> when i'm president, if we
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capture a terrorist alive, they're not getting a court hearing in manhattan, they're not go to be sent to manhattan, they're going to guantanamo and we're going to find out everything we want to know. >> anna, i want to ask you about the president's push to close guantanamo. candidates are wasting in time talking about this on the trail today. for senator rube, senator cruz, they'll have to weigh if on this on xlicapitol hill. >> i have to say that marco rubio was way, way ahead of the curve on this. he has been mentioning this issue about guantanamo and saying that it will stay open he will not be shutting it down. what he said today, he's been saying it for months. i do think that it's an important angle what you brought up, that both marco rubio and ted cruz are of cuban ancestry, and are very well-versed on the cuba issue. it might sound like a stretch to some folks but i don't think
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it's any coincidence president obama is going to cuba in three weeks and announcing something today that has been a huge bone of contention with the cuban government the u.s. occupation of the guantanamo navy base. i think it is yet another unilateral concession by the obama administration to the cuban government, despite the cuban government having done nothing to deserve this, continuing to violate human rights, continuing to oppress and jail dissidents and i think marco rubio and ted cruz come to it with enormous sensitivity and knowledge and will both address it very, very strongly. >> jeffrey lord, let's talk about donald trump on this. you have senator mccain, cited by the white house as being the one that republican -- he's the one republican who supports closure of gitmo. he was critical what the president put forward. he said it could have been done earlier, the plan is vague. if he isn't on board it's a tough fight for the president to get bipartisan coalition in
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congress together, right? >> that's right. i mean, i totally agree with anna, if there is an issue that would unite every republican running for president, this would surely be it. i mean we have been attacked repeatedly over the years, 1993 with bill clinton through the world trade center with george w. bush, on to ft. hood, et cetera, the notion that terrorists should not be held there is something that just is not a sell in the republican party and i don't think in the country as a whole. >> on an issue like this, senators cruz and rubio weighing in, looking at donald trump, do you think they seem more like an authority having had that experience? >> you know, in that sense i don't know that it particularly matters. i think the point here is where you come out on this. and if you're tough on this and seeing tough on terrorism which donald trump certainly is. i don't know so much that the
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experience end of it matter as where you come out on this. he comes out where everybody else is coming out. and they're not alone. >> what do you think about how this plays out on the campaign trail? does it matter in the end? >> yeah, i think it does. i i think candidates who want to show seriousness towards the issue have an opportunity to take it to a broader level. we have gitmo -- >> you don't see where he is to be the same as where senator cruz and senator rubio is. >> the president says we have to close guantanamo bay because it's a recruitment tool for terrorists. we can close guantanamo bay, they are still going to recruit. they are not recruiting people because guantanamo exists. we can put those prisoners wherever we want, they're upset the prisoners are there. it safer to keep them outside the homeland and that's where i hope presidential candidates
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will take them. >> does this matter. >> it does because we saw the attacks in san bernardino, california, a lot of people are scared of what's happening. when we hear news today the day of the caucus that president obama wants to shut down guantanamo bay, candidates are saying it, we've been transferring people out of the prison. people that are left are the worst of the worst. we don't want those people anywhere else except guantanamo. we see some of the people that we have released are back on the battlefield. does affect it. i've seen marco rubio and ted cruz have been talking about it they say they're not going to shut down guantanamo, they're going to keep it open. >> thanks to jeffrey, amanda, and anna. it is a busy week here ahead for republicans and for us. caucuses tone, super tuesday and thursday a republican debate from houston. south carolina democratic primary saturday. wolf blitzer moderator of the
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joe johns joining me from kl columbia. do you have a sense what we're expecting to hear, what secretary clinton is trying to achieve tonight? >> reporter: well, let me you some sense of what's going on here, which is the warm-up event before she goes over to the law school however in columbia, south carolina, to do that later town hall on cnn. this is a gun policy event in an african-american church in columbia, south carolina. she's appearing here with a group of mothers who have been traversing south carolina in support of hillary clinton. those mothers happen to be the mothers of victims of controversial shootings, including the mother of trayvon martin. the campaign thinks that gun policy's a good issue for her, polling bears that out. the latest cnn/orc poll suggesting she's 20 points up on bernie sanders, 5-35. when it cops to gun policy as far as african-americans are concerned here in the state.
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and make no mistake about it, this is an opportunity for her to tie herself to the legacy of president obama, he said gun policy is one of the most frustrating things he's had to deal with in his administration. hillary clinton wants to make the case this is the kind of unfinished business from the obama administration that she can get done. brianna? >> joe johns, thank you. >> bernie sanders had a rally in virginia earlier today ahead of 0 the town hall and picked up spike lee's endorsement. jeff zeleny joining me from columbia, south carolina as well. you look at polls, jeff. he is really far behind secretary clinton. sanders acknowledged that he has this uphill climb and it has to do with how he's doing with african-american voters. >> reporter: sure, no question about it. in 2008, last time there was a democratic presidential primary here, about 55% of electorate was african-american. i talked to the state party chair yesterday, he told me did
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not think it was going to be quite that high this time but around 50%. that is a challenge for the sanders campaign. but they believe they can make inroads with younger african-american voters who are responding to the message of criminal justice reform, of nick inequality here and also are campaigning on college campuses here. the young voters are supporting senator sanders but the problem is for the sanders campaign they don't come out in large numbers. only 14% of the electorate in '08 voters under 30. it's difficult on the young score. he's not going to win african-american voters overall he's trying to bring down margins of the clinton campaign. >> it is fascinating when you look at their travel schedules. you have hillary clinton spending the rest of the week in south carolina but you have bernie sanders focusing on super tuesday stated. what kind of tactic is this for his campaign it a realistic one? >> reporter: i think it is realistic for him. you know this, you've been out
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there as much as i have. she really wants to win south carolina in a commanding way. that would sort of open the next phase of this campaign in a big way. but he has his eye on super tuesday states and the clinton campaign acknowledges he'll win some of them. minnesota caucuses, colorado caucuses, maybe massachusetts primary. they view this as a smarter strategy rather than planting the flag in south carolina all week for something he's not likely to win looking beyond to next tuesday one week from tonight. >> thank you. joining us now, cnn chief political analyst gloria borger and cnn senior political commentator and former obama adviser david axelrod. what do these two candidates need to do? >> to pick up on what jeff was saying -- i'm not sure what bernie sanders can do -- but bernie sanders got 22% of the african-american vote in nevada. this is somebody who has to broaden his coalition and he's
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got to talk to african-american voters in ways that clearly he didn't -- he didn't do in nevada. if he can't do that, he may be able to pick up primary here and there, a caucus here and there. but this is a big part of the democratic coalition that he needs to speak to. >> picking up on what joe johns said, three words to expect to hear a lot from hillary clinton, guns, barack, and obama. and i think that's what she's hitting hard here. that's the key to her support in the african-american community. >> gun event that he's at is tip of her hand what she doesn't want to focus on tone. we heard bernie sanders stressing some of the things i'm talking about secretary clinton is talking about. what do you read into that? >> he's right. the fact is -- >> is he saying i'm now shaping the race? >> what he's saying is i'm the authentic guy, i'm the authentic progressive, she's mimicking me. i'm the real thing. i think you're going to hear that argument tonight. >> he's already effectively
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accused her of pandering by embracing obama and we'll have to see if he does that tonight. >> thank you so much. i want you to weigh in on this after the break. what we're going to talk about, top senate republicans saying flat out, they are not holding hearings on anyone that president obama chooses to replace the late just antonin scalia. what makes this simple salad the best simple salad ever? heart healthy california walnuts. the best simple veggie dish ever? heart healthy california walnuts. the best simple dinner ever? heart healthy california walnuts. great tasting, heart healthy california walnuts. so simple.
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escalation in a supreme
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battle. senate republicans on the judiciary committee promising not to block the late supreme court justice antonin scalia saying they will not even meet any potential nominees, much less hole confirmation hearings. joining me now, chief political correspondent, dana bash with gloria borger and david axelrod. so this is a decision by republicans, at this point, dana, how unprecedented is this? >> it is unprecedented according to the senate historian who said no supreme court nominee has ever been denied a confirmation hearing except if that nominee voluntarily pulled out during the bush years. but today on capitol hill, our colleague asked mitch mcconnell about not just the fact that the senate judiciary committee is not going to hold hearings but whether or not he would even meet with any potential nominee. listen to his answer. >> i'm confident my conference agrees this decision ought to be made by the next president whoever is elected.
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i don't know the purpose of such a visit. i would not be inclined to take one myself. >> so, republicans are absolutely in lock step on this, they feel that they are in the right place politically. even somebody like lindsey graham, on the senate judiciary committee voted for president obama's nominees in the past. >> he says elections have consequences. >> because elections have consequences they're unanimously saying, in this particular case, they do not believe that it's even worth having a hearing. they will not -- >> here's my question for you, david, how would this affect the type of person that president obama would nominate? would they take somebody off a job, a sitting judge, for example, to become a sack fischel lamb? >> one-shot -- >> they wouldn't have to get off the court but they would probably have to stop doing what they're doing. >> exactly. >> which would mean, to me he
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wouldn't take people off the d.c. circuit because those are critical cases and there are several before them now. i think he'll look elsewhere for a nominee. >> i wonder to that point, if he does pick somebody to be the nominee and's if a way a figure head, say the next president is a democrat, where do they go? are they pigeoned holed into picking the person that president obama wanted? >> probably not. but i think -- >> so they are a sack official lamb. >> the republicans made it clear today and will be a sacrificele lamb. republicans have historically i, this correct me if i'm wrong, be been more energized by the idea of who a supreme court nominee would be. >> not this time. >> democrats -- >> every election you hear candidates say, well this is about the supreme court, we have to think about the supreme
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court. i think this may be the first election in which the supreme court actually is a decisive issue for people on both sides. >> i agree, exactly. >> on both side of the aisle. the issue the court is dealing with, whether choice, environment, guns, they tend to be democratic oriented positions. when you look at majority of where americans are. i think this -- this is a classic case of the problem the bind that republicans are in because they tend to be responsive to their base but majority is somewhere else including whether they should go ahead with the nomination. >> i agree with dan. this will motivate the democratic base and you have a lot of senate races in which you have republicans running in blue states and this is going to become a huge issue in those senate races. >> mark kirk, one of the embattled republicaned in illinois announced they should move forward on the nominee. >> he's the only one, by the way. >> right. >> thank you, guys, so much. and we do have a quick reminder that hillary clinton and bernie
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sanders will be taking questions from voters tonight at cnn south carolina democratic town hall. this is going to be moderated by cnn's chris cuomo tonight 8:00 eastern on cnn. new developments in the battle over the iphone at the center of the san bernardino terror investigation. the justice department says apple is flip-flopping refusing to follow a court order to find a way for the fbi to hack the phone. t retirement. a 401(k) is the most sound way to go. let's talk asset allocation. sure. you seem knowledgeable, professional. i'm actually a dj. [ dance music plays ] woman: [laughs] no way! that really is you? if they're not a cfp pro, you just don't know. cfp -- work with the highest standard. . .
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new developments tonight in the standoff between apple and the fbi over an iphone belong to
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one of the san bernardino terrorists. the republican presidential candidates have not been shy about weighing in on this. donald trump has called for a boycott of apple products. and as you may know a judge has ordered april told write new software to allow the fbi to hack the killer's iphone. apple has stroud fight the order. today microsoft founder bill gates weighed in and tonight justice department is accusing apple of flip flopping on the issue. this isn't the first time that apple and the justice department have tangled in court. >> absolutely not. we now know there are a dozen cases around the country in which apple says it is fighting the justice department over orders to break into customers iphones. goes to show you how far reaching this battle could be. it began with a judge's order for apple to help the fbi to break into the iphone used by one of the terrorists in the san bernardino attacks. apple says there's many more
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clashes is going on including in brooklyn over a meth dealer's iphone. number of cases has grown since december after a federal judge in brooklyn first expressed doubts about 1789 federal law that the justice department has been using in these cases. the justice department told the judge last night apple has a long history of complying with these orders and the company only came up with these objection, since publicity grown over the san bernardino case and apple said that it's fighting this fight because it's trying from text the security and privacy of its customers. >> they say it's a bigger issue. what did bill gates say about this? >> bill gates has had an interesting 24 hours. this morning he did an interview with the financial ti"financial which he said the apple is overstating this fight. fbi asking apple to break into a terrorist phone is no different than information the government gets from phone companies. a few hours later gates told
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bloomberg that was a misunderstanding and says he's very concerned about government overreach. >> bill gates has had an interesting 24 hours as you put it. evan perez thank you so much. as we said at the top we're getting closer by the minute to a very big night in presidential politics. the latest on cnn democratic town hall and the battle on the republican side in nevada. we have that and more ahead in the situation room.
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happening now, gitmo reaction for and against president obama's plan to close
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it. plus a conversation with one of president bush's top legal advisors on the facility. final pitch. republicans take their last shot at winning tonight's caucuses taking plenty of shots at each other including a new warning from donald trump. carolina conversation. bernie sanders and hillary clinton getting ready for tonight's cnn town hall in columbia, south carolina with primary day fast approaching for them. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. wolf is on assignment and you're in "the situation room". we begin in nevada where the first caucus sites open in just two hours. donald trump the front-runner, marco rubio and ted cruz battling it out for second, both hoping that the polls which have been spars are not telling the whole story. senator cruz holding a rally shortly in carson city, nevada campaigning down to the "closing bell" there. more now on all the contenders.
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>> we have a big lead and we don't want to blow it. >> reporter: donald trump looking to extend his winning streak. >> south carolina, absolutely perfect. and hopefully by tonight we'll all be together we'll say this one was absolutely perfect. >> reporter: looking for a third win in a row to cement his front-runner status. >> this guy ted cruz is the single biggest liar i have ever dealt with in my life. he's like a little baby. soft, weak little baby by comparison. but for lying he's the best i've ever seen. >> reporter: the brass billionaire ratcheting in his rhetoric. >> he's walking out big high fives. like to punch him in the face. >> reporter: trump also laying into rival ted cruz. >> this guy is sick. there's something wrong with this guy. >> reporter: cruz returning fire
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today accusing trump of lacking core principles. >> i frankly don't care what position donald decides to support today, tomorrow or the next day. they change every day. i don't care what they are. but pick one and defend it. >> reporter: cruz is in a bruising battle for second with marco rubio as the two freshmen senators fight for the mantel of trump alternative in the republican race. rubio making the case he's the candidate conservatives could a less behind. >> we cannot nominate someone who can't within who can't unite us. >> reporter: the florida senator is leaving nevada before the start of caucuses looking ahead to marchon tests with stops in minnesota and michigan tonight. >> i'm not waiting in line. there's no line for president. this is no time for patience. people realized he wasn't our first choice but now he's our best choice. >> reporter: the kasich campaign is swecitching up its strategy.
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releasing a memo calling rubio another teleprompter dependent senator. while the candidate brushed off calls from a supporter to engage more forcefully with his competitors. >> what your going to do to stick to it trump and rubio? >> in term of sticking it to somebody, i ain't going to do that. i'm not going down that rabbit hole. >> we just saw in your report rubio is asking voters to nominate him because he says he can unite the party. he's trying to differentate himself from trump. what is trump saying about reboundo? >> reporter: trump had an ominous message, warning to rubio. he told supporters that largely he thinks he's been nice to marco rubio so far but then quickly add this. he said rubio hasn't hit me. when he does you will see what happens. now rubio has been a candidate that's largely stayed away from
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directly taking aim at donald trump, so it is interesting that donald trump is bringing this up at a time where rubio is on the rise largely seen as being on the rise. trump likes to say he's a counter puncher, essentially this is amounting to a big be careful marco rubio coming from donald trump. >> a big warning. all right. we know he'll make good on it if rubio his him. trump national campaign co-chair sam clovis and cnn political commentators. amanda is a information communications director for senator cruz, anna is a gop strategist and long time friend for marco rubio. sam, how confident is the trump campaign in nevada tonight? he does have this very strong poll. the polls can be wonky in telling us what's going on the ground. he is confident? >> we're cautiously optimistic. we went into this with very
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sizable lead. whatever polls were available. it's a caucus state. so i think get out in front of your heat lights and predict anything because you don't know. lots of locations. administration of the party how they go about doing it, there are a lot of things, a lot of hiccups that can occur. we'll wait until the votes are counted. if there's time to celebrate we'll celebrate tonight and then get back to the campaign tomorrow. >> for what we can read into in these polls you do have senator rubio and senator cruz kind of competing it appears for second place if the polls do tell us what's going on. they are going back and forth a whole lot. does that serve them well in the long term? >> you know, i'm not sure it serves them well in the long term but i'm not sure you can avoid it in the short term. the bottom line they are very first term senators. they are alike on paper and competing for second place. so, how do you compete in the
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midst of a presidential primary without having that type of "crossfire" between them? i also think both of them are very good at organization, on the ground organization. we saw that ted cruz's on the ground organization beat donald trump in iowa despite trump looking better in the polls heading in to that caucus. when it comes to caucusing on the ground, it matters. marco rubio has had very good on the ground organization in nevada for a long time. he has been spending a lot of time there. has visited the state. grew up there for some years when and he was child. was a mormon for some time. you know, can sympathize and identify with the hispanic community there. so i think he brings a lot of natural assets to this nevada contest. >> it's taken me years to learn how to say nevada in english because in spanish we only have one way to say it, thank god. >> i'm from california so i've
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always said nevada it i rx s me when i hear people say nevada. >> it's a spanish word which you guys have butchered so much. >> we got to get back to politics here. amanda, you know, she's saying that rubio has this ground came. so does senator cruz. why are they taking each other on? why don't they both take on donald trump who is leading? >> they are both making the argument if we can get this race in a head-to-head match-up both of us can beat donald trump. that said i do agree this internal battle for second is doing some damage alibi may not be productive because the lead that donald trump is so big, you know, they have to go at trump. cruz has made a straight effort to go after trump. we need to see that out of rubio. it may have been he's so focused on trying to beat jeb bush for that interprimary primary that was happening for do for months. now is the time for rubio to step up and go toe to toe with
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trump and see how trump handles him. trying to go against jeb bush is a much different animal than going against donald trump. >> in terms of what happens beyond nevada does the trump campaign think they can sustain his momentum to super tuesday and monday that? >> yeah. absolutely. i mean i think that if we -- we have a win tonight and particularly if it's a big win, delegate count is what counts. we then go, we still have some proportional states on super tuesday to get. i don't want to get too wonkish about that. delegate count is what counts. you have to krosh a certain threshold. as long as marco rubio and ted cruz are in the race together one of them has to go because they can't pick up enough points along the way or enough delegates along the way to really catch up if there comes a stumble or some point down the road. because if we have a great night on tuesday night it's going to be really tough to swing this
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ship and catch up with it because i think that the trump train is going to be out far enough out front that it will be very difficult to catch if we have a great night on tuesday night. >> ana that could pose an issue for senators cruz and rubio. rubio said we're running out of time and he wasn't the first choice but that he's the best choice. is that a smart move? does that project the confidence he needs to project? >> well, you know, i think he's running with this theme of look, folks, if you don't want donald trump to be your nominee i'm your best choice. look at me. i may not have been your number one choice. when he's saying that he's trying to appeal to folks like me or to folks who are supporting scott walker or chris christie who may have want ad governor with executive experience. and so i think he is going to hit this theme hard. i'm the one that can one, beat donald trump and two, unify this
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party and then beat hillary clinton. you see him go at that time after time after time. this crossfire between cruz and rubio is leaving a little bit of an opening and that's almost all he needs for john kasich who we're now talking about, because he is now the one that's taken up the mantel of the joyful warrior with executive experience. so i think in the midst of this heated battle between the two senators, they got to be careful and look over their shoulder that they are not opening up room for john kasich. >> what do you think by that? he said i'm not going down that rabbit hole. i'm not getting involved in this back and forth. >> but he's not trying to take on donald trump. right now there's a froin primary for rubio and cruz their names are john kasich and ben carson because they are dragging votes away from two. the most important thing that either cruz or rubio have to do is show people they can take on
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donald trump and ted cruz has done it. marco rubio says he may not win a state fill florida. that doesn't inspire confidence. something has to change. luckily there's an opportunity tonight and thursday in the big debate. >> big days ahead. amanda carpenter, sam clovis and ana navarro. later this week republican candidates square off in houston. wolf blitzer will be moderating. and just ahead, democrats get ready for tonight's cnn town hall in columbia, south carolina. hillary clinton out in front. bernie sanders fighting to overcome his underdog status. we'll get a preview from moderator chris cuomo and then later back to nevada however you pronounce it for the final caucus couldn'tdown and a look at where the gop race goes from there. call us or your advisor.
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we're now less than two hours away from a cnn town hall, democrats hillary clinton and bernie sanders tackling questions from voters ahead of this weekend's primary. right now mrs. clinton is about to speak at a forum at a church not far from where the town hall is taking place comes after a day of intense campaigning across the board. >> reporter: the clinton campaign leaving nothing for chance in south carolina. from the walls of our campaign offices to the message at her campaign rallies. >> if the number don't ed up it's wrong to make those promises. >> reporter: bernie sanders is front and center on the minds of clinton world. >> bernie is not the man. bernie was really running, he
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said to push her to the left. okay. so he's done that. >> reporter: jacqueline is working the phones to bring this democratic race to a close. >> if he was a wise man, he would step away. >> you think he should step away. >> i think he should stay way like she stepped away graciously when obama got the nomination. >> reporter: sanders said he's just getting start snooped they are getting very, very nervous. all over this country and virginia and every place else we're taking on the entire political establishment. >> reporter: in the fight for delegates clinton and sanders are nearly tied in pledge delegates. her advantage soars when you add in support from party leaders or super delegates. on his way to south carolina tonight sanders swung through virginia. one of the super tuesday states he's eyeing. >> you guys are getting me revved up here. going to be a long afternoon. >> reporter: sanders is stepping up his attacks on clinton.
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and his supporter are following suit. including an endorsement in this radio ad from director spike lee. >> wake up. wake up south carolina. this is your dude spike lee and i know that you know the system is rigged. >> reporter: the clinton campaign hopes to answer the reiteratism with a strong win in saturday's south carolina primary. making an extra push for young african-american women. >> she says their names. >> reporter: those mothers whose children have been killed in gun violence are campaigning here for clinton drawing a contrast with sanders position on gun control. >> jeff joining us now. senator sanders has weighed in and he welcomed president obama's guantanamo plans that he laid out today, jeff but took another swipe at secretary clinton in the process. >> reporter: he did. he responded very quickly within minutes of the president making this announcement at the white house. senator sanders weighed in. as a way to show he's with the president. that's been a central issue in south carolina.
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the clinton campaign has been suggesting bernie sanders has not bean loyal supporter or information. if you look into this a little bit more he has voted against a bill to fund the closure of gitmo as has she. she supported a different bill. when you fact check all of this out both of them, both rivals have supported the closure of guantanamo bay but bernie sanders was trying to embrace the president a little bit because that's a central question here particularly among african-american voters. if he's that loyal or supportive of the president. who can embrace this president the most warmly, i think. >> certainly. great report, jeff for us there in south carolina. and, again, the candidates next campaign appearance is going to be right there in columbia. not include them facing against each other. instead they are on the university of south carolina campus. they will be facing the voters. less than two hours from now they will be talking to people, taking their questions. they will antibiotic dressing their concerns directly, perhaps giving them the answers that
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they need to decide on saturday in the primary "new day's" chris cuomo will do host toing. he's joining us now. chris this has become old hat these town halls you know which i love because i love the questions from the voters directly. what do you think we can expect tonight from these candidates? >> i think you'll be pleased. let's be honest. that's why i agreed to do another one. once i found out this was something you were really accepting of i felt wow let's keep going with it. we both know why we love it. when you look around it's starting to fill up. it's different when a candidate is responding to you or to me versus a person who is living the question that they are asking about. you're not going to get the same pat answer. you're not going to get the same kind of spin because it's much more obvious to everybody. so you're going to see how they engage on that human level. and then how do they weave their message into it. that dynamic is really priceless for the voters and we're happy
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to motivate it. tonight i have the best seat in the house to watch how these south carolina voters interact with these candidates and how they decide to pick their opportunities to address this person's life versus addressing their opponent as a point of contrast also known as a hit, and the dynamic that goes back and forth. i think we'll have a great night because stakes are very high and the candidate are starting to focus on each other more. we'll see how they finesse that. >> the stakes are really high as you said and obviously we're looking towards saturday. this isn't just about the delegates. it's about momentum going into a number of other races. >> absolutely. well said. you're at the point in the race where you have to start acting like who you want to be. you know the advice you get on a job interview. dress for and act like the job which you seek. that's something we'll see more on display tonight. owning the what if possibility. that if i were president of the
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united states here's what i will do. here's how i'll carry myself. you'll see points of inflection about what the presidential tone, what the presidential ethos is. that's going to be into play. at the bottom this is a raw test of the ability to interact with other people and make the case to that individual, to the people seated here and all the millions watching at home whether or not you understand people like them and you have ideas to make their lives better. >> but you know what we won't see tonight very clearly is that jacket you wore at the last town hall i have to say. >> listen, i was afraid you would bring this up. but i must say i have a prepared statement. no, i don't. listen, you are a very well dressed person. everybody knows that. that jacket was tailored and was very, very expensive. this was about the mike test. i have different orientation of
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mike packs tonight. so i do not foresee it as a problem. and i got to tell you i don't have another suit to lose. so this one has to work. >> it's working. we'll see you tonight along with this town hall. chris cuomo thank you so much. we're looking forward to this. it gets under way a short time from now, 8:00 eastern followed by late caucus coverage out of nevada. next more on what bernie sanders needs to accomplish tonight and ahead of saturday's primary. i'll be asking his national press secretary about that next. my metris also holds over 2,500 pounds of payload. hauling 2,500 pounds in my small van is no problem. i just divide and conquer. hauls more, stows more, tows more and fits in your garage. the mid-size metris from mercedes-benz. vans. born to run. unless you have allergies.,
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tonight's democratic town hall in south carolina gets under way here in about 90 minutes and the primary is so close on saturday. joining me now from columbia is bernie sanders national press secretary, simone sander. no relation. i want to thank you so much for joining us. we're a short time away for what will be a key moment for your candidate in cnn's town hall tonight from south carolina. what should we be expecting from him? >> well, tonight you can expect bernie sanders to go out there and make his case to the people of south carolina and the american people for that matter why he's the best candidate in this race and why folks should vote for him. we'll talk about economic inequality. i hope we talk about criminal
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justice reform. we'll talk about reaching a diverse electorate, reaching the african-american and latino voters and the senator is ready to have those conversations. >> you said we'll be talk about income inequality and criminal justice reform. hillary clinton has at the ride to paint bernie sanders as a single candidate issue opinion he says he doesn't know what she's talking about. she says he's a one trick pony that only talks about income inequality. how important is that for him to push back on that tonight? >> well, i think it's very important. we don't have to do much pushing because every where the senator goes he not only talks about economic inequality he's talking about climate change and criminal justice reforeign minister. universal health care. universal education. health care something that folks in south carolina can identify with and get behind. and south carolina has refused
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to spend on medicaid. there's hundreds of thousands of people without health insurance. in america 29 million americans are still uninsured. so senator sanders is not a one issue candidate one trick pony. we're talking about all these issues on the campaign trail. senator sanders said if hillary clinton decides to come to one of his rallies she would be hear about it. so we're not concerned about the rhetoric the clinton campaign is pushing. we have a great message. our message is resonating. we think we can close these gaps here in south carolina. >> appealing to african-american voters in south carolina is key, a democrat cannot win there without grabbing a sizable portion of the black voting bloc in the palmetto state. we saw senator sanders on sunday. he was talking at a church. he was tailoring his message to
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th demographic and struggled to get some good feedback. how does he turn that around not just for south carolina but these southern states that are part of super tuesday next week. >> i was at that church on sunday and i didn't see a struggle at all. what i saw at that church were folks responding positively to senator sanders message. we were at post-sundiner. folks were eating. people were coming up to the senator afterwards thanking him for raising the issues of criminal justice reform in this election. they came up to him thanking for his commitment to putting action behind the words black lives matter but thanked him for raise ticker of income inequality. >> simone, what we saw in nevada he's struggling with black voters. how does he change that? >> well, i think it's an opportunity not a struggle. nevada was the first opportunity in this election where we had a diverse nominating contest. nevada was the first state. first time senator sanders could demonstrate he could win in a
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diverse electorate. we're reaching out to african-american voters. african-american voters care about electability. we can go toe toe with secretary clinton on the debate stage. senator sa senator sand serious a real candidate. we're looking forward to taking our message to south carolina and beyond and we think we'll be able to close these gaps. >> we'll be seeing you out there on the trail, simone sanders thank you so much. joining us now former obama administration official korean's political commentator donna brazil, vice chair of dnc voter registration and participation. okay so do you first, dan. you hear simone and she's trying to downplay some of the challenges understandably that her candidate has but appealing to black voters is key and it's not just south carolina. there are a number of other states. if bernie sanders cannot turn this around does he have a shot?
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>> no. done have a shot if he can't turn it around. this is his moment. this is the make-or-break moment for the sanders candidacy. the problem is that he's not defined himself yet on some key stuff. his relationship with president obama. she's basically painted him as anti-obama. he's never said listen you love the president, you want to defend his games, i love the president i want to extend his gains and grab this president and show how he's a part of that legacy. he's letting himself be defined in ways that don't make sense. the other thing in love that speech. every black voter in the world has heard that speech. he's got to start telling those civil rights stories. >> he got arrested. he organize ad sit in for segregated housing. >> if he want to be ugly by the way you were for goldwater while i was out there. company tell those beautiful stories. he's got to realize when you're
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in this situation you have to do something different you can't do the same thing. >> real interesting point. so we're looking ahead to the town hall format. there's always surprises for whether their interests, where their interests lie as voters or what their questions are. what do these two candidates need do? >> i think they both have a lot of homework to do. dan talked about senator sanders and basically he's on message. for those who worked with candidates and focus on their message he gets an a plus. this audience they are not looking for your song. they want to hear music behind. whether your background or history, i think for both candidates it's to reach out to those voters who have not heard that message, who really they are in pain. i heard you say pain. they are in pain. but they are at hbcu and they are worried if they don't keep
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the doors open. they have hiv/aids which is the highest in the country. they are worried about the cost of housing. talk to them. stop using sound bites. talk to them as if you're at the kitchen table. this is what a catholic girl would do after 5:00. talk to these voters. there's a gold mine there for both of them. that's right. if they are able to reach the masses and understand their pain but also know they have to protect and preserve an expand president obama's legacy. that matters for black voters. >> he got out foxed, out maneuvered on the obama question. what you want to do is hug obama. he can accuse her saying you want to sit on his gains. i want to expand his gains. the other thing that's so important there are other issues besides criminal justice. i'm mr. criminal justice. >> what are the other issues he should be focusing on. >> first of all, you have a lot
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of african-americans in the military. if you are too heart attaawk is kids are coming home in black could fins. the rust belt the nafta position cast jobs. so many things blacks are dealing with military to jobs. expand your argument out. >> make the case of treating african-americans like they don't care about these issues? >> what we're trying to say is when you talk to people of color whether black voters or hispanics or others there are issues that people are concerned about. people in the barber shop and beauty parlor, people on the corner. that's why when bernie -- i'm going give hillary some play. guns. guns matter. >> she will be talking about it. she had this big gun event. >> absolutely. >> i love them both. she's been smarter about finding those wedges. he hasn't found those wedges.
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it is the final gop test before super tuesday, one week from today.
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tonight republican caucus goers are casting their ballots in nevada. turn out will be a big factor here. only 7% of nevada republicans took part in 2012, that's 33,000 voters out of 400,000. this time around 37,000 voters have pre-registered. cnn brian todd is in las vegas for us. he's joining me now. tell bus this, brian. because i do understand that there's growing pressure among state officials to just make sure they get this right, that this goes smoothly. >> reporter: that's right. tonight a lot of pressure on state gop officials. there are a lot of problems in the vote count and reporting in 2012. they are under considerable pressure to get that right tonight. this is one of the places they will be doing it. this is desert oasis high school. home of the diamondbacks. these are the poll volunteers getting ready.
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they anticipate a spike in turnout with 37,000 pre-registered voters more than the entire turnout in 2012. voters check in here. show their photo i.d.. they can if they want listen to some presentations from candidates representatives and others. that will be going on over there. some voting can be going on here or over there. they have the freedom to move around and cast their vote any time they want, any time between 8:00 eastern time and about midnight eastern time tonight. site will be very exciting to see how many people turn up here. again the spike in voter turnout will be key, probably for donald trump. now on the problems from 2012. they had a lot of problems with the countig and reporting. some poll workers actual lie boxed up the results and drove them over to the central headquarters. others emailed them in on excel microsoft excel spreadsheets and when they got there the columns didn't line up. they had to recount everything. that was a huge problem. they say they are working on this and we'll see tonight if
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they have. >> you press ad staed a state republican official about that. what did you get back? >> reporter: i spoke to michael mcdonald the state gop chair just a short time ago. pressed him on all the different problems and how they will correct them. >> we've used modern technology. we've used trouble shooters, people that are far more knowledgeable than i that gave us advice. we have corrected the problems. it's caucus. we're early. we're learning from other states. and taking their advice. nevada will have a great tonight. >> if they have a great tonight that's very important for all the candidates taking part in this. one of the things that has led to some problems here is the confusion over when the caucuses start. they start at different times in different precincts. here in lashing coin they start at 5 p.m. local time. in others they start at 6:00
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p.m., 7:00 p.m. local time. that leads to confusion. we'll see if people can get past that and get to these areas tonight. >> brian todd thank you. back with us now autumn canada. how big of a concern is this? >> well, it's a huge concern. 2012 we've been working since the day after election in 2012 to ensure it doesn't happen again. up here we went from 11 talks locations in 2012 to now having 28 caucus locations so we more than doubled that. we have trained over 500 precinct chairs in the past month and trained 28 coordinators to coordinate each of those sites. we have done due diligence, knowing the issues that will be coming up and doing the best we can with the rules that were given to us having it on a tuesday evening with only a few
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hours to vote. >> last time we saw nevada go through this it was a 7% turn out for republicans. caucuses do require more effort. i know you're expecting a couple of things, right? record turnout, perhaps. but also tell us about this issue with when folks needed to register as republicans and how this could affect what we see tonight. >> i actually think it's a huge issue. one thing we do in nevada to ensure the integrity of the election is to make writ you have to be a registered republican by february 13th. which was ten days ago. i was at a trump rally today earlier and they had dozens of people registering voters and i want needs articulated to these people that if they registered today and show up on the caucus anticipating to participate, then they should know they can't. the only thing i'm worried about is people showing up saying hey i registered as a voter why can't i participate and i think that's one of the issues we'll
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be seeing tonight. >> we'll be keeping our eyes on nevada tonight. thanks so much for being with us. next campaign reaction to president obama's plan unveiled today to close guantanamo bay. that the national eye institute recommends to help reduce the risk of progression of moderate to advanced amd... after 15 years of clinical studies. preservision areds 2. because my eyes are everything.
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. today president obama sent congress his long promised plan to close the detention facility at guantanamo bay and set off a firestorm. on the republican campaign trail reaction was swift and sharp. >> you wake up this morning to the news that the president is planning to close guantanamo. maybe even giving it back to the cuban government.
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this makes no sense to me. when i'm president if we capture a terrorist alive they are not getting a court hearing in manhattan not going sent to nevada they are going to guantanamo and find out everything they know. >> all i can tell sue i profoundly disagree. >> mr. president you don't have the authority to give away vital military assets of the united states of america and if you do this to the next president you will be held accountable for undermining the national security of our country. >> we need to have a place to take people. we need to have a place where we can try to derived information from them that will be beneficiary to us in terms of our safety, and i'm not seeing what the alternative is quite frankly. >> this morning i watched president obama talking about gitmo. right. guantanamo bay. which by the way, which by the way we're keeping open. which we're keeping open. and we're going to load it up with some bad dudes believe me. >> the president's plan includes transferring southeast worst inmates to high-security american facilities.
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cnn pentagon correspondent barbara starr has details. >> i hear by order guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now. >> reporter: it was a promise that president obama made on his first full day in office. close the guantanamo bay detention facility in cuba. more than seven years later president has sent congress a plan to do just that. >> let me point out the plan we're submitting today is not only the right thing to do for our security it will also save money. >> reporter: the plan centers mainly on what to do with detainees too dangerous to be cents to other countries. there are 91 detainees left. 35 have been determined eligible to be transferred overseas. that could lead 40 to 60 prisoners that might have to be transferred to a military or civilian prison in the u.s. some will face military tribunal. the pentagon calculates compared to keeping guantanamo open
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closing it would lower costs by up to $85 million a year. that is the toughest part politically. kansas republican senator pat roberts made his view clear. >> this is what i think of the president's plan to send terrorists to the united states. >> reporter: congress has banned the administration from spending money to transfer prisoners to the u.s. >> it is illegal. illegal for the president to transfer any of these terrorists in to the united states. >> reporter: because of congressional opposition the pentagon still has not recommended a specific site for prisoners. defense officials have looked at the maximum security federal prisons in colorado, the navy brig at charleston, south carolina, and the military prison at ft. leavenworth, kansas. defense secretary ash carter making it clear from the outset the key will be getting congressional approval. >> we have to get the support of
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congress. i hope they will support a reasonable plan. we'll have to see. >> reporter: president obama insists the top terror suspects at gitmo can safely be brought to the united states and held, many of them suspects in the 9/11 attacks. the only problem is he has yet to convince congress. barbara starr, cnn, the pentagon. >> lots to discuss. joining us now we have senior legal analyst jeffrey toobin and john yu. jeff, there's this legal component of all of this and then you have the political component. is president obama on firm ground in either respect here? >> well, politically he's got a big problem. you know, this story has just changed politically so much. george w. bush, john mccain, condoleezza rice all wanted to
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close guantanamo. once president obama decided he wanted to do it he ran into a wall of objections from republicans. there's no sign that's going to change. so he's trying to close guantanamo but certainly doesn't look like he can do it. >> john, what's the legal argument for keeping the gitmo facility open, of course, but also holding people there indefinitely without a trial. you will say they are not u.s. citizens. do they stay there forever? >> there's a constitutional issue and international law. constitutionally i think president obama sane tough spot because congress has forbidden the use of any federal funds to bring anyone from guantanamo bay into the u.s. so president obama is a commander-in-chief. he can release any of the people at guantanamo bay to foreign countries under his constitutional power. but what he cannot do is to use federal funds that defies congress. he can't bring them into the united states unless he's willing to be the first
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president other than president lincoln at the start of the civil war to override congress' power of the purse. in terms of the -- there are national questions that they are prisoners of war so during war countries take prisoners and hold them as long as the conflicts lasts. they don't have to try them. they can just hold them at guantanamo bay or some other facility until the hostilities are over. >> john knows that the hostilities are never going to be over the way the authorization of the use of military security forces written. we'll be continuing to fight terrorism forever, so we are now in a situation where we're holding these people indefinitely without a trial and that simply is indefensible. that used to be a point of bipartisan consensus that that has to end, but now that president obama has proposed ending it suddenly it's very controversial.
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>> john, what's the bottom line argument against bringing these people to the u.s.? >> i think there are several. first the communities in the united states don't want it. second, people are very worried about the security around the facilities. i'm not saying that, you know, al qaeda will break into a trial and kill everyone in the courtroom. united states will have to spend a lot of known secure the area and you might well see terrorist attacks nearby or terrorist attacks in the u.s. as some of the top al qaeda leaders, taliban leaders were to come to the u.s. this was all sparked, jeffrey is right, the politics has changed. i would say politics changed when president obama wanted to bring the master mine of the 9/11 attacks to down new york city and try him where the annual security costs run more than running the guantanamo bay base itself. >> if president obama had done
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that, he would be on death row now. guantanamo would be closed. instead we're in this continuing stalemate that does nobody any good and financial cost of keeping guantanamo open is just wildly kpr lly extravagant and necessary. >> isn't there more of a concern now about these folks being in the u.s. and inspiring attacks? >> whether they are in the u.s. or not is not going to make any difference to lone wolves if they are in fact lone wolves. they will attack anyway. there's no evidence that moving these individuals into the united states where they could be housed with 100% security would increase the risk of the risk in the united states at all. in fact, the defense department under both president bush and president obama has said that keeping guantanamo open as a symbol is a recruiting tool for
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al qaeda and isis. it's not something that makes us more -- makes the world more dangerous. it makes the world less safe by not closing it. >> jeff toobin, john yoo thanks so much. thank you so much for watching. erin burnett "outfront" starts now. good evening i'm erin burnett and welcome to a very special edition of "outfront". we're following two breaking stories. republican voters about to caucus in nevada. crucial fourth state in the race for the gop nomination. and the democratic candidates are about to take the stage in south carolina for cnn town hall. they will be taking voter questions in less than an hour. hillary clinton and bernie sanders will be on this stage that you see here in columbia, south carolina. we'll be talking with top officials from both those campaigns coming up in just a little bit. also an hour from now

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